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Charleston

Lovers of Charleston, rejoice! If you’ve always longed to attend a Charleston Festival in May in East Sussex, you can now attend online — for free. And if you’d like to add some paper touches of Charleston to your home office, you can do so now, while helping the financially challenged Charleston at the same time.

Celebrating and helping from home

The Charleston Festival, the main fundraising event for the longtime home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the country refuge for the Bloomsbury group, is staying home, like many of us around the globe as we weather the current coronavirus pandemic.

And now that the event is available online for free, billed as the Charleston Festival at Home, more of us from around the world will be able to attend from home — and hopefully be inspired to help Charleston while beautifying our homes as well.

Cambridge Imprint has already stepped forward to contribute one-third of all profits from online sales of its Charleston range of unique paper goods to Charleston’s Emergency Appeal for the next three months, starting May 12.

The Charleston Festival at Home

Charleston’s flint and brick garden wall with a row of casts of antique heads, many of which have been replaced over the years.

The Charleston Festival at Home is a series of 10 free events bringing artists, writers, thinkers and agents of change together online to explore art, literature and society, just as the Bloomsbury group did around the Charleston dining room table 100 years ago, according to the website.

The online program runs May 15-25 and features nearly daily events that include:

  • BRICKS & MORTAR: On May 17, Hannah Rothschild and Julian Fellowes discuss historical fiction, family, and the wonderful inspiration that buildings can provide. The talk premieres at 2 p.m. BST.
  • IN PURSUIT OF JUSTICE: On May 19, Philippe Sands discusses ‘the ratlines’ — a system of escape routes for fascists fleeing Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
  • SEX, LIES & WOOLF: On May 22, Leïla Slimani speaks about her novels, beliefs, and her new collection of essays giving voice to young Moroccan women.
  • SALMAN RUSHDIE IN CONVERSATION: On May 23, Salman Rushdie returns to Charleston Festival to discuss his life and work.
  • ORDINARY LIVES & DEVASTATING TRUTHS: On May 24, Tayari Jones will explore the art of writing tangled relationships and the perils of young womanhood.

All events will be available on Charleston’s YouTube channel. Check the schedule for details or download the program. Follow the hashtag #CharlestonFestivalatHome.

About Charleston’s need

Charleston, the treasure trove of Bloomsbury art and culture, along with its garden, galleries, shop and café, are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means the charity that receives no public funding is bereft of income from visitor admissions, as well as its main fundraising event. The Charleston Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious interdisciplinary festivals in the world, was cancelled in April due to the coronavirus.

As a result, Charleston has issued an emergency appeal for donations from those who appreciate this unique venue, no matter what side of the pond they live on.

You can find out more, including how to make a donation — whether you are a UK citizen or not — here.

 

 

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By the second week of March, the sale of jigsaw puzzles soared, due to coronavirus quarantines. With puzzle companies closed, as they were not considered essential businesses, puzzles became scarce and prices went up.

I was one of the many who searched online to find puzzles that looked like fun and wouldn’t break the bank. I found a few. But I never thought I’d find any that included Virginia Woolf. Today I did.

Puzzling Woolf

First, there’s the EuroGraphics Famous Writers 1000 Piece Puzzle, which features Woolf smack dab in the middle of 75 other famous writers. Its finished size is 19.25″ x 26.5″ and the cost is $29.79.

Second, there’s the Re-marks Bestsellers Panoramic 1000 Piece Puzzle, which includes covers of many best-selling books, including two of Woolf’s — Orlando and Mrs. Dalloway. It measures 17″ x 9″ and the cost is $17.99.

I bought both for my collection of Woolf items.

Getting in Woolf’s head

You can also get inside Virginia Woolf’s head — and put it together — with the Virginia Woolf Paper Craft Model. This pocket-size item describes itself as “The Head is a Puzzle.” It includes eight model sheets and 22 precut puzzle pieces you assemble by connecting tabs. I’m skipping this one.

 

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Literature Cambridge has good news for those who live at a distance from the University of Cambridge:  Its upcoming Study Days are moving online. The intensive but accessible sessions will be held via Zoom, due to the coronavirus.

Each session has a lecture and seminar with a leading scholar and will last approximately 100 minutes. Organizers recommend that you allow two hours for each class, just in case they run a bit longer.

LITERATURE CAMBRIDGE ONLINE STUDY DAYS

Study Day: To the Lighthouse: The Mother in the Garden

Date and time: Saturday 9 May, 6–8 p.m. British Summer Time; 7–9 p.m. Central European Time

Join Lit Cambridge for an intensive evening studying one of Virginia Woolf’s greatest novels. Based on Woolf’s memories of childhood summers by the sea, To the Lighthouse is a powerfully moving account of love, art and loss.

Lecture and a seminar led by Trudi Tate, Director of Literature Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.

Date and Time for other time zones: Sunday 10 May 2020 (Repeat class)

Lit Cambridge will repeat the topic on 10 May, for the benefit of people in Japan, Australia, and similar time zones. But you are welcome to book, wherever you are. This will be a live lecture and seminar, via Zoom.

10.00-12.00 British Summer Time
11.00-13.00 Central European Time
18.00-20.00 Tokyo Time
19.00-21.00 Melbourne time
21.00-23.00 New Zealand Time

Study Day: Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

Date and time: Sunday 24 May, 6–8 p.m. British Summer Time; 7–9 p.m. Central European Time

An intensive evening studying Virginia Woolf’s memorable novel set on a single day in London in 1923. Mrs Dalloway traces the joys, sufferings, and memories of two very different characters: Clarissa Dalloway, married to a Conservative Member of Parliament; and Septimus Smith, a former soldier who is suffering from shell shock.

Lecture and seminar led by Trudi Tate, Director of Literature Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, who has a chapter on Mrs Dalloway in her book, Modernism, History and the First World War .

Tickets and Bookings

£22 full price

£18 students and CAMcard holders

Bookings are open and can be made online.

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Charleston, a treasure trove of Bloomsbury art and culture, is in dire need. Can you help?

Charleston

The longtime home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the country refuge for the Bloomsbury group, along with its garden, galleries, shop and café, are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That means the charity that receives no public funding is bereft of income from visitor admissions, as well as its main fundraising event. The Charleston Festival, scheduled for May, is cancelled.

As a result, Charleston has issued an emergency appeal for donations from those who appreciate this unique venue, no matter what side of the pond they live on.

You can find out more, including how to make a donation — whether you are a UK citizen or not — here.

Charleston as seen from the farm track to the home. The gravel, the lawn, bushes, and the facade of the house are the same as in the time of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

The Charleston garden

The Famous Women Dinner Service painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant between 1932 and 1934 has been on display in the Outer Studio at Charleston.

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The New York Times reports that about half the world is in lockdown, due to COVID-19. So is now the time to read Proust? Some say yes. Others say no.

Drew Shannon’s Modern Library set of Proust

One naysayer is Suzanne Moore of The Guardian. She writes, “I never managed Proust in pre-virus days, so don’t saddle me with him now, for God’s sake.”

Others say yes. In fact, a Facebook group formed by Elisa Kay Sparks and dubbed “The Woolf Pack Reads Proust” has taken on Proust as a pandemic reading project. It has 29 members from around the globe.

Woolf on Proust

Woolf herself read Proust. Here’s what she had to say about him:

Last night I started on Vol 2 [Jeunes Filles en Fleurs] of him (the novel) and propose to sink myself in it all day. [. . . ] But Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures?theres something sexual in it?that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession. But I must return to Swann” – Letter to Roger Fry, 6 May 1922 (Letters II 525)

My great adventure is really Proust. Well–what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped–and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance?  One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical–like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Far otherwise is it with Ulysses. – Letter to Roger Fry, 3 October 1922 (Letters II 565-6)

Resources for reading Proust

Founding member Benjamin Hagen, who is also heading up the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Profession and Performance, which has been postponed until 2021, has added a number of resources to the group page.

They include:

Hagen, assistant professor of 20th-Century British and Anglophone literature at the University of South Dakota, also posted this drawing and comment to the group page on April 6. He is also blogging about his experience.

Me [Ben Hagen] trying (with not too much success) to map out connections between topics / themes from last week’s reading.

Focusing — or not — on Proust

Hagen has made much more progress than I have, bless him. I must confess that the farthest I have gotten with reading Proust is locating the first volume on my bookshelf and dropping it on my desk. There it sits, unopened and unread.

The inability to focus on the task at hand is common at this time, no matter what we are doing. Here’s a quote shared to the group Facebook page by Gill Lowe, who said of her own reading of Proust: “I started. But I just can’t concentrate…”.

Proust on illness

It is illness that makes us recognise that we do not live in isolation but are chained to a being from a different realm, worlds apart from us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. – The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust

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